Asking for the same thing over and over again isn't fun for anybody. Repeating yourself makes you feel like a nag and makes them feel bad about themselves. Not to mention, it drives you both crazy.
So, how do you break the cycle of nagging?
Learning how to quit nagging and start talking isn’t as complicated as it seems. It’s all about opening up those lines of communication and adjusting your expectations.
Keep reading for 6 easy steps on how to stop nagging and learn how to open a healthy dialogue with your spouse.
1. Watch Your Words
It's natural to feel exasperated if you feel your spouse isn't pulling their weight around the house, but the last thing you want to do is put your partner on the defensive. How can you avoid this? Simply put, listen to the way you're asking your partner for help.
How you think you're saying things: "Honey, I would really appreciate it if you did the dishes while I'm at work."
How you're actually saying things: "How are you so oblivious that you don't even see those dishes piling up while I'm at work?"
As we can see from this example, your words and the way you make requests of your spouse matter. Instead of making them feel guilty or belittled, phrase it in a way that makes them feel good.
"I would really appreciate your help with..."
"It always makes me feel good when..."
"You're my hero when you..."
The above openers are great conversation starters.
2. Don't Believe in Mind Reading
Men and women have a terrible habit of believing that, after a time, their spouse knows them so well that they should be able to understand what they want without ever having to tell them. This is a cute thought but rarely is it ever true.
Any marriage therapist will tell you that your spouse cannot read your mind. If you need something from them, you need to learn to ask for it.
You can start by sending out little cues that you want X or Y, but if they don't catch on by the time you get to Z, it's time to start communicating
with your words.
Not only does this save your spouse from playing a guessing game, but it also saves you a lot of frustration.
3. Make It a Shared Decision
One way to stop nagging and start being proactive is by getting your partner involved.
Problem-solving isn't something you should do on your own. When you are married or in a serious relationship, you are partners, not parents to each other.
What your job isn’t: Mummying your spouse and telling them what to do.
What your job is: To come together as a couple and work at healthy conflict resolution. Identify the problem you're having in a kind and respectful manner and then ask your partner to weigh in on how to resolve the conflict at hand.
The keys to great problem-solving are empathy
, communication, and listening to each other.
4. Take a Marriage Course
The need to nag comes down to a fundamental lack of communication in a relationship. When both partners are open and honest about their needs, conversation flows, and partners look for ways to help each other out - instead of being told to do so.
Instead of seeing a marriage therapist, why not take a marriage course?
There are plenty of online courses designed to help couples understand each other better. Topics covered in a popular online marriage course include setting shared goals as a couple, building compassion and empathy, mastering the art of communication, intimacy, and making and sharing traditions.
5. Get Your Partner to Hear You
No partner wants to be a nag, and the argument could be made that if the spouse or child did what they asked the first time, they wouldn't have to keep bringing it up, which effectively stops nagging.
A fair point!
But harping at people doesn't usually get the job done - so how DO you get someone to listen without nagging them?
The best way to get your partner to listen to you and avoid ending up in a marriage course for couples on the brink of destruction is to get them to see things from your perspective. Relate your situation to something they can understand.
One stay-at-home mom and homemaker worked hard to keep her house neat and tidy, but her construction worker husband would come home and walk through the freshly mopped hardwood floors with his dusty work boots on. She asked him to take his boots off repeatedly, but he could never seem to follow through.
One day she said to him, "Keeping the house clean is my job, just like doing drywall is your job. When you come home and walk through the house with your boots on after I just finished cleaning it, it's as if I came to your construction site and ripped down the drywall you put up that day. Do you see how I could find this to be frustrating?"
The wife used an example the husband could understand, and so he became more empathetic to her desires.
6. Do It Yourself, If Possible
As they say, "If you want something done right, do it yourself."
To decrease nagging, ask yourself whether what you're about to say is worth getting upset over and whether it’s worth taking the task into your own hands.
Sure, it'd be nice if your spouse refilled the compost bag so you don't have to do it, but the next time you're getting ready to nag about it, ask yourself: Is a compost bag worth starting World War III over?
If you want to break the cycle of nagging without ending up in the office of a marriage therapist, you need to learn how to rephrase your requests. Speak respectfully and work on building empathy in your relationship. A marriage course can also help build communication and work on your conflict resolution skills.
Communication is key to any relationship, and it's especially more important for partners. Sometimes, a person may feel like they're communicating properly, unaware that their partner is already hearing them nagging. These 6 tips will help you stop nagging and communicate better with your partner.
Learn More About Communicating With Your Partner Better